Report by John Edwards
Picture by Jonathan Moore
Ethan Ross has given Altrincham a massive boost on the eve of their entry into this season's Emirates FA Cup by committing himself to the Robins and turning his loan status into a permanent signing.
The giant keeper initially joined on a season-long temporary move from Stockport County, but he is here to stay now after putting pen to paper on a full-time deal at The J.Davidson Stadium that is subject to FA, EFL and National League approval.
It's another signing coup for manager Phil Parkinson, as he bids to build on an outstanding start to the Robins' Vanarama National League campaign, and he was understandably elated as he reflected on the 26-year old's impact since arriving in the summer.
"I am delighted we’ve managed to recruit Ethan as a permanent signing," said the Alty boss ahead of Saturday's eagerly-awaited FA Cup fourth qualifying round tie with Oldham Athletic at The J.Davidson Stadium. "His performances this season have been at such a high level that when the opportunity presented itself to take him permanently, we felt we just needed to make it happen.
"It is no coincidence that our upturn in results has coincided with Ethan’s arrival. He gives us a great chance in every game, as he’s capable of making key match-winning saves.
"He gives the lads confidence that, even if we make a mistake, he’ll save us in that moment. He’s a great signing for Altrincham and is potentially an Alty legend in the making."
Phil's reference to the significance of key saves was never more vividly illustrated than in Alty's most recent National League game, when they made it five wins in a row with an exceptional 2-0 victory away to a Gateshead side who were flying in fourth position before the Robins leapfrogged them and took their place.
It was still goalless, approaching half-time, when Gateshead forward Ed Francis thought he had scored with a close-range flick of the left boot, only for an astonishing reflex save to deny him as Ethan stuck out a hand to deflect it on to the bar.
Seven minutes later, it was Alty who broke the deadlock as Justin Amaluzor fastened on to a pass from Chris Conn-Clarke and scored the first of two Robins goals that lifted them to fourth in the table.
The Enfield-born keeper, who grew up in the North-East, has been an ever-present for Alty in the league this season, putting his imposing physical presence to good use by dominating his area and underlining his shot-stopping qualities by saving no fewer than three penalties.
Here's to more of the same, now you're a fully-fledged Robin, Ethan - all the best for continued success in Alty colours!